A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Both of our families have been growing quite a bit in the last few years. Obviously due to the fact that our siblings (and us!) have been having kiddos. 'Tis the season! It makes family events on both sides fun and CRAZY with so many little ones around. But, I wouldn't have it any other way. Even if it does mean I never get to play the card/board games most of the time!

Even in the midst of the challenges it brings, the little kids are a blessing, and they are the future of our families. Legacy is so important to Eli and I, and I value that I can look back and see that both of our families have incredible spiritual legacies. Our boys really don't know what amazing heritage they have. Hopefully someday they will look back and see how the Lord planted them in this family, and what a joy to look back at the line of tall-standing servant leaders they come from.

As I was downloading pictures off the camera, I saw this old Willems family Christmas pictures from just four years ago ...

Compare that to the picture we took this year!

Growing, growing, growing. And I am sure there is more to come!

Monday, December 29, 2014


Although Thanksgiving was several weeks ago, it was still worthy of memory posting ... we were so blessed this year to have Eli's grandparents visiting from California for an entire two weeks, including Thanksgiving week. This fall brought health issues to grandparents on both sides of our families, so to have his grandpa and his step-grandma here was really wonderful. We weren't sure in October if his health would allow it, so we were excited he is still doing well!

My parents were in Arkansas with my grandmother, so my siblings and I were at other sides of our families. I love love love Thanksgiving at the Brooks house. Not that I don't love it with my family! But, Robin is such an amazing hostess. Planning meals and inviting people over is something she loves to do, so you can imagine that we have a H.U.G.E. spread of food at Thanksgiving, and just a great time with everyone there!

We always have the Shin family with us - Yusun and her two sons, Eric and Peter from Korea. They have been in the States for 6 years, and although they will eventually go back home once Yusun's studies are finished, they are very much adopted into the Brooks family, and those two teenage boys love meals at Robin's house!

Me and some of the girls!
Eli and Grandpa George
Even though Abram was only two week old, it was wonderful to be with everyone, and although we had many more than 20 in that house, it did not feel overwhelming. The kids played together, there were boards games out by the end of the evening, and happy people that didn't really want to leave. Pretty good holiday if you ask me.

Eli's dad and I - turkey carving time!
You never really know how many more holidays or times we will get with our grandparents that are left - the boys' great-grandparents, so we truly treasured that time with Grandpa George and Grandma Kathy in November, and spent many many days either at Robin's house, or having them over here. They are so good to sit and read and play games with all the boys, and are very much adored by Jonah, Reuben, and Matthias. And they loved getting to hold little Abram!

Joy, Peter, and Seth
Kathy and Grandpa
Four generations together!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27th???

Goodness ... December 27th??

We just finished celebrating Christmas with my family - this morning! We've had a total of four Christmas-es already, with one more that won't happen until next Friday evening = ) This month has been busy and wonderful and overwhelming and humbling. I have seen that I can't get it all done (DUH!), but that God's grace has covered me each day.

We have made Christmas cookies, delivered them, had our kids' dance at church, a Christmas Eve service, MULTIPLE doctor appts, warmer days than usual, gotten back to the gym, shopped for last minute Christmas presents, and so many other things!

Eli is home for a few more days before the church office re-opens, so I hope to catch up on what life is like in the Brooks household ... or what it has been like!

A couple days late, but Merry Christmas!!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birth Au Natural

Going into Abram's birth, I had hoped to go naturally, with no induction, no meds. With both Jonah and Matthias, I was induced. And although they broke my water with Matthias in hopes to get labor started, it didn't progress and I ended up with Pitocin and therefore an epidural. Don't get me wrong, epidurals definitely have their perks: I spent the last couple hours of all three previous births with no major pain. BUT, they make me sick. Sick like throwing up before the birth, and then throwing up after the birth. It is a little bit frustrating to want to hold and snuggle your freshly born baby, and having to hand him off over and over again so you can throw up in a bag.

So, I felt like I had spent the last nine months battling nausea, and wanted to try and see if I could avoid it during the actual birth. I read up on relaxation techniques, talked to friends who had their babies with no medication, and often felt like "Yes! I can do this!", and also often felt like "WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I THINKING???"

Yes, one tells herself that millions of women have done this before, and surely, surely I could as well! But, knowing that you're also going to enter what people call the worst pain ever is a bit intimidating.

At 40 weeks and 6 days, I was ready for Abram to come (not that we knew for sure it was a boy at that point!). We were sure a week and a half earlier that labor was gearing up, and then it stopped and never quite returned. I was dilated to three centimeters, and t.i.r.e.d. of being pregnant. Our Dr. agreed to break my water that morning of the 14th, and we were hoping that labor would progress on its own.

We went into the hospital at 7:45am, got settled into our room, and sat down so I could get a dose of antibiotics. Nothing major for the next couple hours. Dr. came in at 9:45 and broke my water and we got ready to do all we could do to get my body to agree to the process!

Eli and I walked the halls for probably two hours, with periods of stopping so they could check heart rates and everything. Contractions started to intensify some and come at regular periods. Eli was an awesome coach, just being there with me. Close to 1pm, the nurse checked and I was just at a 4. At that moment, I was a bit disheartened. I was sure she was going to say I was a bit further along! But, she was such a fabulous nurse, and quickly knew what to do. She had me switch positions for about 20 minutes, which made things pick up, and then got me into the tub, which REALLY made things start to pick up more!

In the tub I started to lose a little of my resolve: I was telling Eli if things were going to feel "like this" for a few more hours, I didn't think I could do it. I might even have said "I'll need an epidural!" Thank goodness for this man who encouraged me to just stick it out a little bit longer.

When I got out of the tub, I was really feeling it and wasn't getting long breaks between contractions. The nurse checked again, probably close to 2:30, and I was 6-7. Things were intense, and I started to panic. I think if I had really realized at this moment that I was in transition labor, I might have not been so worried. But, somehow in my mind, I still had at least two hours left of what felt like intolerable pain. Little did I know I had a much shorter time! I'm a little ashamed to say that during contractions I was begging Eli for some kind of pain meds, and then in the short breaks in between them, I would apologize for "losing my mind".

The nurse knew, though, that we were nearly there. She said "no pain meds!" and called the doctor, because when she checked things maybe 10 minutes later, I was a 9+. My mom and Eli's mom were both in the waiting room at that point. Eli, trying to fan me because I was super hot, was trying to text them to get in the room, and they said the saw the Dr. flying down the hallway and they knew it was time!

Just a few minutes later I was ready to push, and pushed for 2-3 contractions and Abram was there! 3:02pm in the afternoon. Two hours of crazy intensity, and suddenly it was over! I looked down and laughed: "It's a boy! Of course it is."

Moments after birth
Sooooo ready to snuggle my newborn - with NO NAUSEA. Definitely a little shaky from it all, but I felt great, and within two hours got to eat dinner! He was perfect in every way. We didn't get quite as many pictures during birth and right after as the last three, mostly because we were definitely in the moment and Eli was working to coach me through it all.

I won't lie, it was hard and it was painful, but to me, it was worth it. I have joked that I probably gave Eli PTSD from it all, but he has said it was worth it as well. I think back and I do think if I had known at that crazy transitional moment that I really only had 20-30 minutes left before the baby would be born, I might not have lost my mind quite so much. = ) But, I am grateful. Truly, it was only about 5 hours of labor that day, which was much shorter than I could have hoped for! And I know that a safe delivery and a healthy baby are a miracle ... and that is what our little Abram Nicholas is - a miracle sweetness to our life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Abram Nicholas Brooks


Friday, November 14, 2014, at 3:02 p.m., we welcomed Abram Nicholas Brooks to the family! He was 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and 20 1/2 inches long. Definitely our biggest baby! I will write another time about the story of the birth, but needless to say, we are enjoying getting to know this little guy.

The big brothers pretty much adore him, and although there are definitely still moments of adjustment as Mommy's and Daddy's arms have to take extra time to bounce a baby, everyone is thrilled with his arrival (and the boys were thrilled he was another boy!).

My days have flown by faster than I can catch up with, and my to-do list (or rather, catch-up list) is long, but sometimes things just aren't going to get done each day! Which is why I'm getting to this post finally, when Abram is already nine days old = ) But, as we approach Thanksgiving in three short days, mine and Eli's hearts are most definitely full of thankfulness and awe as we gaze at another miracle: a healthy baby and three other healthy boys that create chaos and fun in our home. Our bushel and our hearts are full!

Friday, November 7, 2014


Soccer season is well over and we have moved into basketball season (for Jonah). This was the boys' first year playing soccer and they both really loved it so much. Jonah definitely connected with his teammates and got in there and we saw some great improvement. Eli played soccer for many years, and so he did really great with playing with the boys in the backyard during the week, and keeping them excited about playing! Reuben did better than we thought (I was worried he would be the kid standing on the field, completely spacing out) and was very much focused on his game and pretty intense-faced during games. He did great, and had fun with the boys on his team.

Even though they are young, I can see how we're going to be getting into those years soon in which we have to decide how to be involved in sports and activities. Do we really focus and push into one or two? Or just let them try what they want, and maybe enjoy a lot, but never really achieve a high level in one thing? I see families in which soccer soccer soccer consumes their weekends. And I'm not really sure I want to be there. But, I also never want to hold the boys back if they really find something they excel at. And so, it is a guessing game as we enter a bit more social and activity time as Jonah and Reuben get bigger.

Either way, I know it will take prayer and all of us being willing to work together and be flexible as we figure it out. I think back on all the gymnastics and dance classes my mom took me to (and with four other kids to homeschool and take care of) and I am really grateful my parents made those sacrifices - financially and timewise - because I have great memories of those times. And I want to give the boys opportunities to participate in activities, without letting the activities and sports control us.

Jonah was ready to jump right into basketball season, and is loving getting to know new teammates and go to practices. But Reuben didn't even ask to play = ) The difference between my boys. I overheard Jonah asking him a week or so ago if he was going to play basketball sometime, or if he wanted to. Reuben shrugged his shoulders and said "maybe someday when I'm in second grade". Not nearly as social as his brother, he is happy to attend Jonah's games and not worry about it. He rather prefers it.

Getting ready for the kick in

Just love this picture = )

Monday, November 3, 2014

Harvest Party 2014

We worked really hard to get a family picture this year - on a real camera no less! There was one year we got no family picture, and a couple years we've only gotten them on phones. Which is an improvement, but still! I nearly didn't dress up - which I think would have been my first halloween in my entire life that I would not have dressed up for ... but it became apparent to me that I might have faced being disowned by the four most important men in my life. So, I did! And I am glad that I did = ) Pregnant squaw and all.

Our Harvest Party this year was the biggest ever - over 950 people came through the doors of the church to enjoy our evening! Wow! And that is without advertising, save the poster by the side of the church. It did seem crazy and busy and all those things combined, but it was fun.

I ended up leaving early with Matthias. I could NOT STOP candy from getting into his mouth! And couldn't get him to eat dinner. He was having fun, but at the same time, having trouble waiting in line for games and getting a bit frustrated himself. So, I left the two big boys together, with Oma to bring them home, and headed home with Matthias. Who happily ate at home, took a long bath, and then read books with Mommy. Jonah and Reuben stuck together at the Harvest Party the entire time, and had the evening of their little lives = ) So glad that we have this opportunity each year!

And so, the family of Native Americans survived another October 31st ... and we now await the birth of our little papoose.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hurry Up and Wait: October Reflections

If anyone else in my little world is counting along with me, it is eight days until baby's due date. Not that a due date means anything specific, except a good guesstimate that around that time, your baby might be born.

Except that it plays a mental game with you, right?

For about the last two weeks, I have felt so good. Not necessary just exploding with energy, but good. Content. Happy. Full of joy. Peaceful.

I didn't feel that way the first half of the month. I was over-tired, exhausted (mentally, emotionally, physically), and couldn't see past my to-do list. Instead of taking time to be refreshed by the Lord each day, I focused on getting everything done that could possibly be done, and allowed myself to be frustrated at what remained undone at the end of the day. Really not a wise choice in daily living!

A retreat that I almost talked myself out of going gave me a 180 turnaround. I truly was refreshed and got to spend extra time listening to the Lord, worshiping Him, and allowing myself to relax in His presence and physically relax as well. Although I couldn't see it prior, I needed a couple days of not being "Mommy" and not focusing on what I hoped to accomplish around the house. Both in the midst of being away, and in hindsight ... that I was I REALLY needed. A re-focus. A time to re-think my priorities.

Be still and know that I am God.

I hadn't been taking anytime to really be still. My mind was always going even if my feet were taking a break.

Coming away didn't mean that my list changed or many of my daily activities changed: I still have to work; do school with the boys; clean up the house; etc. But my focus changed and I wasn't walking around stripped thin.

And I have felt peace about when the baby would come. Mind you, I tell people, I wouldn't mind this baby coming ANYTIME, but I have felt okay with being pregnant days longer. I know I face sleepless nights and a huge change in the dynamic of the home, but I also long for hips that don't ache and shoot pain every time I switch positions at night. For my physical body, the birth of this baby means no more nausea every morning, ease with bending over again and holding little people in my arms. I'm ready for those changes.

And somehow this morning, I am facing the GET THIS BABY OUT NOW attitude. THIS BABY WILL NEVER COME, when I know full well this baby will be born at some point! Maybe not tonight (please, Lord, oh please, tonight would be great!!!!!), maybe not even before the said "due date". But Baby Brooks will arrive. And will I trust? Will I really really believe that God has a perfect time? That all my calculations and thoughts of when that perfect should be are actually the small picture of my little world, when He sees a grander scope?

And I wrestle today. Wrestle with emotions and not wanting those emotions. With wanting today to be fun and full of laughter (and a little sugar) as the boys look forward to the Harvest Party and costumes? And also wanting a whole bunch of contractions to hit at any given moment? = ) I know, I think I'm a little hormonal. As in one day I see ups and downs in my thoughts, I look back over the month and see the down at the beginning, and the beautiful lift that came halfway through. And may it remind me even in this moment, to be refreshed. Re-focus. There is a better way to wait.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not a Baby Anymore

My baby isn't a baby anymore. He is a full-fledged little boy with strong opinions of his own ("Mommy, sometime I like you, sometime I don't" - true statement from a boy in the backseat of my car when he DID NOT want to go to soccer the other weekend), running faster than I can often catch these days, asking me who I'm talking to on the phone, giving me big squeeze hugs, requesting Mommy to read books each morning during our couch snuggle time, refusing to ever sit on the potty, finally eating some pasta after a two year refusal, and giving a day-full of challenges, giggles, laughter, hugs, and whateverelseyoucanthinkof every single day.

Matthias really is such a fun personality. Oh, he makes me want to pull my hair out several times a day, but he also just brings lots of joy to our home.

But, the realization is sinking in that he won't be our my baby anymore. I'm not really sure how this will all pan out. He loves babies and helping to take care of them ... but that is an entirely different story when a baby is going to arrive in his home, taking up our time. He is still my snuggler, and wants me to lay by him when we read a story before bed or naptime. He wants to have his blanket and pacifier often (the habit will have to go after baby-adjustment), and walks up to me: "Momma, hold-a me" with those not-so-chubby-anymore arms.

Although it is hard to actually wrap my mind around the fact that in only a few short weeks Brooks Baby will be here, every now and the the reality hits me that life is about to change. A lot. In a short time. And I know the affect on him will be huge.

And so I pray: pray that he will adjust, that he will love and not resent his newest sibling. That God will show me how on earth to spend my time wisely, investing in each child separately, and teaching them (us) to live together.

And I am treasuring the little moments that I am getting that I know will inevitably change: putting him to bed. Trying to read more books when we have time. And I admit: I feel a little sadness sometimes - knowing that we face the transition and he just isn't my baby anymore.

My current favorite moment? When I lay next to him in his bed, after reading a book, and usually I close my eyes and sing or pray. And then little hands frame my cheeks, and I can "see" him looking at me. And then, then little fingers touch my eyebrows (of all things!), and he always says, "Mommy? I like your eyebrows". = )

that is my Matthias.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

With mine and Eli's schedules in October, I dreamt of taking the boys to the pumpkin patch, and wondered how on earth it would be coordinated! We have retreats for the youth, the Harvest Party, a weekend fundraiser, counseling a couple and then Eli doing their wedding and on and on. It seems like most days are packed, and the weekends are too. Adding in doctor appointments for myself, trying to get school and my work done everyday, and I fall into bed exhausted!

BUT, yesterday was a bit of a reprieve - and once soccer was over in the morning, we didn't really have big plans the rest of the day. It just happened to be gorgeously sunny and beautiful, and so at 4:15 we decided to just load up and head out to the pumpkin patch.

SO MUCH FUN! It was busy, and I have never actually been there when it was that busy, but since it is outdoors and everyone was just walking around and enjoying themselves, it felt so festive! Felt like fall, I should say. Lots of people and kids walking around, laughing, avoiding mud puddles, and picking out pumpkins while they munched on kettle corn or watched the little ones play on the playgrounds and run through the maze.

The big boys, of course, remember the pumpkin patch and were soooo looking forward to being out there. Matthias didn't really remember it at all, so it was like experiencing everything for the first time over again. Chickens! Cows! Tractors! Pumpkins! He was totally into everything and had a blast. We took the boys' cousin, Mya with us, and she had a great time wandering the pumpkin patch, and playing with the boys.

Although I love to plan ahead, this was the perfect spontaneous trip for us. Just the right amount of time left in our day, perfect weather, and no meltdowns = ) For the Brooks Bushel, that is counted as highly successful!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Roller Blading

When I was younger, my older brother was waaaaayyyyy into roller blading for quite some time. We had a half-pipe ramp built in our driveway, and he and his friends were always ramping, skating, and incurring probably hosts of injuries! One my friends was pretty good, and he even traveled a bit with a small team that did tricks in parking lots and set up little "locations". I think at one point I had a pair of roller blades that I got used at Play It Again Sports = ) Even when your older sibling is a boy, you still want to be "cool" in his eyes, right? I suppose that is why I remember when I was 14 or 15 wearing some pretty baggy black skater pants and thinkin' I looked pretty sweet. Thankfully, a short-lived fashion statement for me!

Last week, a family from church had us over (okay, I wasn't able to go, but Eli and the boys went) for two purposes: One, to have the boys swim with their teens in their indoor pool; and two, so that we could look through items left over from their garage sale to see what if we wanted any of it before it all got donated.

And in that pile of goodies was a pair of roller blades.

Just so happens they fit a certain seven year old boy that lives in my house = )

Jonah is determined to master his roller blades. Which means that he has them on at least once a day, and he is working up and down the sidewalk in front of the house. Which means that I'm looking towards many skinned knees, elbows, and palms! We haven't had a chance to go buy protective gear, so he wears his helmet and I cover my eyes.

Just kidding.

He is pretty wobbly, and he has fallen a lot of times. But, as he is just learning, there isn't any great speed going on, so he usually gets right back up, brushes off the dirt, and goes again.

And then Eli found that he had kept his roller blades, so the other night, he got out there with Jonah and practiced with him. A little blonde boy was SOOOO happy to have Dad out there with him! I am not sure how long the faze will last, but the main thing is that we are outside a lot. And I love it! We have the sidewalks, great neighborhood streets to traverse, and the boys are making friends with kids around. Loving our new home!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Daddy Time

The three Brooks brothers certainly adore their Daddy. Whether it is Matthias "mowing like Daddy mows", or Jonah wanting to go hunting with Eli, or Reuben sneaking around the house with his impish eyes ... trying to sneak up on Daddy without being noticed, they eat up his attention! So grateful for a husband who believes in "doing" with his boys: getting them outside; letting them take chances; teaching them skills (or looking forward to the skills that will be able to be taught!); and being very hands-on.

I have had a few appointments in the last few weeks in which Daddy was put on duty while Mom had to be away from the house for part of the evening. No worries when that happens = ) Because there are always things like this to be done:

Eli does love to hunt. And this year, with a baby coming in early November (read: deer season) and a very busy October beforehand, he decided - completely on his own - to give up hunting for the rest of the year. Bleary-eyed/newborn/first weeks doesn't seem to mix well with four-thirty am wake up calls for deer hunting. And I appreciate it, because I know that it is setting aside something that he truly enjoys, because he knows that there is going to be a lot going on in this house!

But, that doesn't mean that there can't be some practice going on over at the Brooks' house.

The boys love to practice with their bow when Eli is practicing with his, and with a higher fence than in the old house, it is even a better space.

So, Mommy left for her appointment, and the boys were lacing up shoes and putting on camo hats to have "Dude Time" as it is affectionately called, with Dad and a deer target. The fall weather is beckoning us to be outside more and more, and while bike and scooter rides are good outings, this is a great one (especially for when I am gone!).

Jonah was able to take an archery class this summer, and I need to get him going to the archery club a couple times a semester so he can continue to practice there as well. I don't think that Reuben will be far behind.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Can You Hear Me???

Over the last two weeks, Eli and I started to slowly pick up on the fact that Matthias hasn't been hearing us as great. About two and a half weeks ago, he had an ear infection in one ear (which actually might have ruptured), and we had to take him in on a Sunday morning. The doc on call - who I will never take my boys again to - couldn't see because of the wax in his ears. He always has too much wax! So, he dug in to clean it out. Traumatized Matthias, who was screaming bloody murder, and actually made Matthias' ear bleed because he was too rough. The next two hours my little boy's ear was oozing blood. I was not a happy Mama.

Anyway, we did our 10 days of antibiotics, but we started noticing that when he was facing away from us, he wasn't responding quickly when we said something to him. And then there was the "little" hint several days ago when Eli was sitting on the couch, Matthias was across the room. Eli said something him, and Matthias looked up at him and said: "Say it again Daddy, I can't hear you."

Two days ago he came into our room fairly early, and we let him snuggle with us for about 15 minutes before we had to get up. He was laying next to me, but facing away from me. I decided to experiment. Whispered "I love you, Matthias" to him. No response. And he nearly always responds back with "I wuv you too, Mama" to me. I said something else quietly. Nothing. When I raised my voice louder, he finally turned his head to me.

I decided we weren't going to mess around with this, and called the ENT that morning to get an appointment in. He went in yesterday. Failed the hearing test in both ears, although one was much better than the other. BUT, there was SO MUCH WAX in his ears, that the doctor couldn't see past it to see if there was a lot of fluid build up or anything else to be concerned about! Options??? Pin him down while he screamed and flailed (because of past trauma with ear stuff) and try and clean it out; put him under and clean it out; or have us work the next month with softening medicine and a water syringe to clean it out and go back and see if he can see in there. We took option 3 = )

So, all our baths will involve squirting water in the ears to try and get junk to come out, and I'm being more deliberate in my communication with him. I don't want to get to yelling point, and I don't want to give him the easy "out" in obedience because he might have trouble understanding. He can hear, I just need to make sure he is looking at me when I talk to him, and I speak clearly.

And we're praying that it is minor. We haven't noticed this in the past, so hoping it is a lot of wax issues and maybe some fluid that needs to be drained somehow!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Life with Little Boys

Perhaps girls are just the same ... I have nieces, and I know they still take risks! But, it sure seems like I deal with injuries constantly. I am thankful, so thankful, that we haven't ever had to make an ER visit, or had any broken bones - or even broken teeth! = ) I know lots of parents have had those little emergencies to deal with.

But two weeks ago, Matthias fell down the stairs. Okay, he rolled down the stairs. All the way. And our stairs, although carpeted and ending in padding and carpet, they are still pretty steep. He missed the first step - I was RIGHT THERE! - and rolled down down down. Oh, I shrieked, the other boys came running, and as fast I could, I ran down the stairs to grab my boy. He was scared like crazy, but no major bruises, bumps, or anything! Those are the moments you feel like your heart stops beating and you feel like you (at least I feel like) could hold them for hours afterwards. Reassuring them and yourself that they are okay!

And then last week, I was headed into work at 8am. The big boys ran ahead as they always do, into the kids' room at the gym and sat down with the games they had brought. Matthias always walks in with me. Side note: we're having some two year old separation issues right now. But, he was excited to go in that day because he was wearing his little guitar, and was going to show Ms. Becky how he could play. Started to run across the room and tripped. Face planted. Guitar turned side up. His mouth slammed into the side of the guitar. OH MY. SO MUCH BLOOD. He was screaming. Blood was everywhere on the inside and outside of his mouth.

Thankfully, in those moments, nothing seems to gross me out, although I am not typically great with throwup, blood, cuts, etc. You just want your baby okay. I grabbed, Becky got a towel and we tried to calm a ballistic boy down. Tried to figure out if his teeth were okay. Attempted to get him to let us put ice on it. And eventually, he was heaving, not screaming. Just cut on the lips and gums - no apparent damage anywhere.

I actually held him for the next hour during a training session! He couldn't stay in the kids' room because he was just too upset, which I understood. But I had to cancel following sessions and just get him home to relax with Mommy.

His poor lip was super swollen all day. Didn't want to drink or eat. I managed to get him to have a couple popsicles early on, and finally by dinner time, he was just hungry and thirsty enough that we coaxed stuff down him (also while having to take Reuben to the doctor because he was complaining he had an earache - yup, an ear infection!!!). The boys kept looking at him all day, "Mommy, he just looks a little funny because his lip is so big!"

Poor guy, it was big. But he woke up the next day and it went down all day long. = ) He survived, we survived! And you know what? There will be more. And that's okay.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lost in the Shuffle

That's how I feel the last week and half has been! Why? Two words.

Garage sale.

We've never done one before ... and since we have been working on our 30% reduction in what we own, a garage sale seemed only practical. Too many bigger things than we could figure out how to give away and we don't want to just take truckloads to Goodwill. We would rather have people get a cheap price and get what they want. And whatever is left we will try and find someone who wants it, and THEN take the last bits to Goodwill! = )

But, amid sorting through boxes, pricing, still getting school done, still attempting to keep a fairly clean house, still working my hours at the gym ... well, my family stories have fallen behind.

Ah well. The good news is, I can remind myself that I can catch back up and get back started. I hate falling behind. The type-A in me was cringing each night when I went to bed and hadn't written down my boy stories for the day or week. But sometimes something has to give! And computer time was it. This body was falling exhausted into bed each night.

So, we've made it past the first morning, and were pretty pleased with what sold. We still have a couple bigger items that we would love to see sell tomorrow, but guess what? By tomorrow afternoon it will BE OVER! And the garage will be re-claimed (mostly) and I might even get to park in it! Hurrah!!!! Been waiting only a mere 9 years for a garage to park in.

Headed to soccer games, gym class, and finishing up the garage sale tomorrow before a birthday dinner for our aunt. Busy, but good day ahead. And hoping to get some soccer action shots to share = )

Monday, August 25, 2014


We have some great friends that I have made through the gym - Anne Marie has two little boys, Reuben and Matthias' age, and we gone on little day trips with them, had many playdates, and the boys always look forward to having each other in the gym kids' center.

Their backyard has been a great place to play together, and the last time they were there, Matthias and his buddy, Bennett, played and played together in the backyard. Bennett had out his little mower, rake, and a wheelbarrow. Oh, Matthias loved that little wheelbarrow!

I debated for a couple weeks on what I should do: this kid loves being outside (and someday SOMEDAY it will cool off, right???), and we spent a lot of time outside. He "mows", digs, runs, and is generally just happy when in the outside air. And although we are really working to rid ourselves and the house of unnecessary excess and stuff, I just wanted to get him a wheelbarrow to play with!

I did = )

Found one at Target, and although it wasn't on clearance yet, they only had one left, and I was worried by the time they clearanced out all the summer toys, it would be gone. So, I bought it.

He loves it! I haven't had them out much the past few days because the heat is just soooo bad, but the first few days after we got it, it was closer to mid-80s outside. He pushes his wheelbarrow all around, puts dirt in it from the spot that will someday be our garden, fills it with water and waters things, and just is a happy happy boy. Last week when Eli mowed the lawn, Matthias followed him all around, pushing his wheelbarrow and "working with Daddy".

It was still a pretty hot day, but he trucked along the entire time Eli was out there working. By the time they were down, he was sweaty, pink-cheeked, but grinning ear to ear. I brought my boys men out cups of ice cold water and he was proud to sit by his dad, drinking his water after his work = ) And the only idea that finally enticed him to come inside was a beloved bath - much needed after all that!

I figure I would rather have him working outside with Eli or I with a play wheelbarrow, hauling things around, than sitting with many other toys that we are considering giving away or selling. I can't wait for this heat to pass and fall weather to come so we can use it everyday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sweet Things

All the males in my house have a fond taste for Nutella. Well, I should say that we all have one. I try to stay away from the jar, because what happens is I think: "I'll just have a taste". Can you really stop at one taste? I can have pretty strong willpower to resist food temptations ... but when that little jar is open, one taste always seems to turn into more = )

The boys would like to dip crackers into Nutella, but Eli and I have decided that we're cracking down on that snack request and that Nutella can be eaten on fruit or whole wheat bread. End of discussion.

But, my sister did bring me a jar of goodness this summer, and it happens to look like this:

Yep. Oh, I had seen these at the store, but hadn't bought one for myself. Yikes, it is good! So good, that I think I really shouldn't ever buy it for myself again. One bad hormonal day, and there might be a good chance half the jar would disappear! Truth be told, it was really really good. And I actually did enjoy it enough that I only had a little a day until the jar was gone ... because I didn't want the jar to be gone!

The little boys weren't even interested in it, but I did share with Eli, who really liked it as well. He would prefer to dip pretzels in it, but I would just like a little on a spoon. All.By.Itself.  YUM.

It seems ironic that I'm thinking and writing about this when I recently proposed to Eli that we take the entire month of September and try to eat zero refined sugars. Talk about a slam to my sweet tooth! He hasn't agreed yet, but is considering. Not that it really sounds fun or anything to me, but I like a challenge. And the month that all that Halloween candy starts making a serious appearance seems like a good month to do it. Our main freakout? Coffee creamer. We are addicted to our half-caf, homemade, cold-press coffee that we have every morning. And yes, I do enjoy my coffee with vanilla creamer. If I'm going to have one indulgence during a day, that is definitely on the list. So, we would have to figure something out with that. Honey in coffee? Haven't tried it before.

We'll see what he says *wink*, September is less than two weeks away, so we'll have to make our decision soon so we can plan, AND so I can go through the fridge and cabinets and rid them of things that won't be allowed. Why not? That's what I say!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pokemon Cards

I'm not sure whether or not it is unfortunate or not yet, but a Pokemon craze has taken over our house. Last year sometime, a baby sitter gave the boys a big stack of Pokemon cards that she had from years ago. The boys enjoyed looking at them and stacking them in different piles, but it wasn't something that truly captured their attention.

Until now.

There were bigger boys coming to the gym in the mornings since school was out this summer, and some of them were quite into Pokemon cards. Therefore, I now have two boys who want to play with their cards all of the time too. = ) I have no real issues with Pokemon cards as they currently operate at our house. Our boys aren't allowed to watch the shows, but they "battle" with their cards and trade back and forth. As far as I can tell, their cards operate like their fighter guys.

My friend, Betty, from the gym, came over to help me unpack on moving day, and she saved me by taking Jonah to Wal-mart. I had promised him that we were get a binder and pages to keep his cards organized in, and with that week of packing, it just didn't happen. So, while I was making space for boxes due to arrive, she took him to Wal-mart and they got their pages and two binders. One happy happy little boy. She even bought him a new package of cards to share with Reuben.

We had packed their old cards for the time at my parents' house (at that time, it wasn't a big deal!), so for the last 4-6 weeks, the boys had been waiting for the storage unit to be unpacked the day we moved into the new house! As boxes came in, and got opened as the day went on, no Pokemon cards were to be found. Poor Jonah. It was nearly more than he could take. "Mom? Do you think they are in this box? Can I check this box?" And I, well, I was hoping that I didn't in some packing fit months ago, toss those cards!

Thankfully, about 7:30 that night, Eli's mom happened to open one random box, and there they were! The boys have been busy day and day with their cards, putting them in their binders, re-organizing them, finding the ones that they want to give away (I am so proud, because they decided on their own to give away about half of the cards that they have, because they have friends that don't have any), etc.

And of course, a few days later, I just had Jonah help me create a small binder for Matthias, because that 2 year old just wants to do whatever his big brothers are doing. Which means when they had their books out for the 20th time of the day, he was right in their business. Never mind. We'll give him some of his own = )

And so, whether or not it lasts for years I cannot know, but I'm hearing more about Pokemon and battles than I ever would have wanted!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New House

We are finally in the "new house" as it has been affectionately called for the last three months! In! Amidst boxes and chaos and clutter and figuring-out-where-everything-goes, we are home. My goal is to unpack and find homes for things in at least 4-6 boxes a day. Why? Because if I look at everything at once, I get overwhelmed and start to freak out ... but if I decide this is my assignment for the day, I can do it.

The boys are happy. Matthias is having trouble going to sleep without Mommy sitting by him until the eyelids droop, but I remember having a week or two like that when we moved into my parents' house as well. Adjustment period. Our first night here, Reuben wrapped those arms around my neck, squeezed super hard, "Mommy! I am sooooooo sooooooo glad to be in the new house and sleeping here!" And Jonah slept about only six hours that night, because he kept coming into our room. Not scared, just unsure how he felt being in the new space.

The differences between boys.

I'm figuring how to creatively store towels without a linen closet, learn my way around in the dark (I walked right into a wall yesterday morning - my first super early work morning in this house), have peace with the piles of laundry growing around me as we still don't have the dryer hooked up yet, and remember it all DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COMPLETED IN A FEW DAYS. Um, yes, I have to remind myself of that daily, maybe hourly! Oh, I like things to be done, finished, arranged, ducks in order ... and it is not going to happen immediately. = ) Learn to let go.

Our goal is to get rid of 30% of all we own as we open boxes and re-arrange things. Why? Because we don't need so much "stuff". This all dates back to the Seven book I posted about months ago ... and realizing that the last thing we want is to instill in the boys that "things" are a focus for us. Hard to do in America when acquiring is a goal. More and better cars, nicer furniture, the newest electronics, and for my bushel ... POKEMON CARDS. More is not always better!!!!

So, we are sorting, thinking, and laying aside. Memories can still be kept even while giving away the item. How many cake pans do I really need? Are we every going to use that again? Is that item useful to the family or beautiful for the home? Or just a "thing"? It's a process. It also means that garage that I am so excited to park in someday will be filled for awhile with boxes and items as we prep for a garage sale that we will hopefully be ready for in early September.

But we are so glad to be here.

I can't wait to have people over into our space. Meetings, dinners, get-togethers, play-dates, wedding and/or baby showers for friends ... anything! And so I continue to delve into the boxes surrounding me, opening up the space to make this house a home, and a home full of welcome and hospitality.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Beginnings

I'm surrounded by boxes and packing materials and clutter and insanity. That would be moving. I don't highly recommend moving twice within a three month period. Something about it makes the mother of the house feel like she is losing her mind and her energy ... thankfully, at some point it WILL END. We will be moved and settled and we won't have things in four different locations, right? Right.

And really, I should be packing, which feels like all I have been doing all week, except work. But the pregnant belly is protesting right now, which I think means sitdownandstopforaminute. Okay. I will. The new beginning, the new home, is just at our fingertips, although I think the boys aren't taking me seriously when I say "we're moving all this stuff tonight!" as they continue to get out more toys. Ah well. Trying!

As we prep for a new home, we're prepping for a new school year. I can't believe that Jonah will be in second grade! A box of fresh, new schoolbooks arrived yesterday. And of course, even though they are schoolbooks, the boys were excited. There is something fun about pages that haven't been written in, books that haven't even been cracked open by anyone else. They dove in, looking at everything!

I am so proud of my Reubs. Five years old and starting a first grade math book. I'm not worried about pushing through it fast, we will take our time and make sure that we get our concepts and have everything down. But, that kid loves numbers. Nearly everyday he is asking me some addition or subtraction problem that he is working on in his head. Just loves numbers!

He pulled out that new book and right away sat down at the table, finding pages, showing me what he would be working on in that big book! And then when Eli got home, he had to show Dad.

Our new Bible curriculum

I know that each year just ups the workload - for the boys AND for me! And so I enter the school year (which we will hopefully start in a couple weeks) knowing that I cannot do this alone, but really need the grace of God to be the mommy and the teacher for this bushel.

And so begins a weekend of newness. Our last night in Opa's house is tonight, and tomorrow we'll be sleeping on Sharon Drive!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


It dawned on me the other day as I was driving with the boys, that we had promised them over a year ago, once we were in a new house, they could get a pet. Well, Elisa, moving into said new house in four short days!

I'm really hoping they don't quite connect the dots like the literal evening we move into the house and are starting getting ready for bed and everything. Maybe give me a couple days before saying; "Mommy??? Remember how you and Daddy promised us a pet in the new house?"

Although with Jonah, that would be a miracle. That boy does NOT forget.

With Reuben's allergies (and Eli's - for that matter!), cats and dogs are out of the question. Which, in our ideal world, we would have loved to have a dog for the boys to run around with. But not for the Bushel of Brooks. We have settled on a lizard, and I believe the boys are planning on a bearded dragon, specifically. I'm pretty sure every single one of them would love a snake, but at that, I draw the line! No snakes in my house. Lizards I do not have a problem with, snakes? Quite a large problem!

But, reality is sinking in. That means a tank. Supplies. Upkeep. Feeding. Cleaning. Etc. Responsibility is about to be taken on by all involved parties.

And so we'll get a lizard. And we'll play with other people's pets whenever we can! Eli's sister got three kittens, which Jonah and Matthias were delighted to play with when we were last at her house. And even Reuben warmed up to them. And since he normally displays fear with dogs and cats, we went ahead and let him hold the kittens and gave him a bath at home = )

Kittens are so darn cute. I would have probably given in and wanted to get one myself if it didn't make members of my brood sneeze incessantly. And Jonah is always up for playing with people's dogs whenever we're around families that have pets.